They say life is a game where success or failure depends on how one plays. But if this were so, then one must simply master his own game to win. As entrepreneur Enrique Gonzalez says, there is no single cookie-cutter edition to life and perseverance is key. He should know. Gonzalez, who comes from the illustrious family of the Yuchengcos, started out as an entrepreneur as early as 13 years old. He went on to become an investment banker and an IT entrepreneur, eventually becoming head of several publicly listed companies in the Philippine Stock Exchange.
He is currently involved in at least 5 different industries, such as retail through the NBA Stores in the Philippines, food and beverage through Highlands Coffee from Vietnam, the payments business as one of the direct agents of Western Union in the Philippines, plus online payments for the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearances, internet service chains through Netopia and online games. And it is his newest venture that he is very much excited about, the revival of X-Play Online Games through the newest online game sensation, NBA2K Online.
Gonzalez says X-Play Online Games is part of the IP Ventures Group that was recently privatized. It is now primarily an investment company that invests in different sectors and businesses. He says, “we invest in a broad range of businesses, both early and mid-stage. But the common flavor we have today is all our businesses are geared towards consumers, and preferably with a technology angle, but not necessarily.” This, he says, is a major shift from the primary purpose of what IPVG was known before, which was a technology company.
X-Play is one of the pioneer online gaming publishers in the Philippines. NBA2K Online is an action-sports online game that combines the best of what the award-winning NBA 2K basketball video game has to offer, with immersive gameplay, rich player customization and a massive online community.
According to Gonzalez, through the recent launch of the NBA2K Online last December 2015, the company is revitalizing the online gaming market once again. This, coupled with the love of Filipinos with all things basketball, can be a sure-fire formula to winning the hearts (and pockets) of Filipinos, through the NBA Stores and the online games. As Gonzalez describes it, “the consumer reaction and appreciation when they walk into an NBA Store — you look at their eyes, and their connection with the brand is so deep and so strong.”
Because of the excitement, company executives are quite optimistic that the game will soon be one of the most popular online and hopefully spur the development of the Philippine online gaming industry.
Gonzalez says, “if you look at the online gaming market today, there are over 40 million internet users, with about 20 million gamers. Of the 20 million gamers, about 12 to 15 (million) are playing PC games. So, we’re creating a new genre. And typically what happens in the industry, the first mover to create that genre becomes a market leader.” Because of this, he says he is confident about prospects for long term growth, adding that they are optimistic NBA2K Online will be the market leader, both in terms of revenue and number of gamers, especially because the appeal is very broad.
Gonzalez’s passion for his multi-industry businesses run deep and he says his business philosophy has somehow changed through the years. “Our original business philosophy under IPVG was to start businesses, grow them and then sell. But my thinking today is a little bit different. We’re thinking more long term, we are not here to ‘build to flip.’ We actually want to build the company, and maintain and sustain it, as a market leader.”
He reflects on his change of business attitude as part of a natural process in maturing, both as an entrepreneur and as an individual. “You know, starting off is a young man’s game, it takes a lot energy to do a start-up, and you can only start-up so many times in your life. Also from a personal standpoint, all these businesses we’re starting now, if I were to sell it, what am I gonna do with myself? I can’t start-up again.”
Coming from one of the biggest families in diversified businesses, Gonzalez knows he has big shoes to fill, never mind if he himself has been very successful at a much younger age than his predecessors. But the one thing he says he would like to be known for someday is to have the legacy of giving back, especially because he knows “there is more to life than money. Obviously, success is very important, it allows you to do a lot of things, but I think it is equally important to give back, And I hope we develop that culture here in Asia.”
He himself will be starting with his own mentorship via an incubation lab to be announced at a later date. At the same time, he continues to get his priorities in order, by going back to the basics, and remembering why he is doing what he does. In the end he says it remains to be a healthy balance between pursuing your dreams and passions, and nurturing a life well-lived, with all those he holds dear.